Chapter

On the Tail End of Variation in Late Neolithic Burial Practices: Halaf Feasting and Cannibalism at Domuztepe, Southeastern Anatolia

Suellen C. Gauld, James S. Oliver, Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Elizabeth Carter

in Bioarchaeology and Behavior

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780813042299
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043449 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813042299.003.0002
On the Tail End of Variation in Late Neolithic Burial Practices: Halaf Feasting and Cannibalism at Domuztepe, Southeastern Anatolia

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Domuztepe is a large Late Neolithic site situated in south central Turkey that dates to 5800 and 5450 cal BC. The burial record from these levels includes several complete and fractional interments, as well as a short term pit deposition (F143, aka the “Death Pit”) comprising over 9000 human and animal bone fragments. In this chapter we analyze the demographic composition of the human assemblage and describe, from an osteological perspective, the circumstances surrounding death at Domuztepe. Results of our analysi, show that 1) both the cause of death and subsequent mortuary treatment are quite varied; and 2) the Death Pit assemblage displays a catastrophic (single event) mortality profile that is dominated by high death rates among prime age individuals. The presence of this unusual pattern supports our interpretation that the Death Pit represents a single large feasting event which included the deliberate sacrifice and cannibalism of at least thirty six people and a similar number of animals.

Keywords: Domuztepe; Cannibalism; Feasting; herd culling; Late Neolithic

Chapter.  7893 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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